Today we interview the Growth Hacker Armin ZadakBar a serial entrepreneur and internationally known marketing expert. He’s the founder of The Armin Bar, a Growth Hacking Agency in between NYC and Milan. He is one of the selected Business Coaches of the European Commission for the Horizon 2020 program and a lecturer at Bologna Business School (Italy), St. Gallen Business School (Switzerland) and our Innovation School (Italy).
His most recent start up out of Milan, IL MIO World, focuses on the use of NFC chips and blockchain technology to help brands and their users fight counterfeiting and increase personalised communication under GDPR.
Hi Armin, how Il MIO World was born?
About 6 months ago a business partner (now co-founder), Mark Noorlander, and I started working on a project called IL MIO World. We officially incorporated the company in June of this year. Mark’s background is in Blockchain Technology and I specialize in Marketing, or Growth Hacking, to be more specific. After working on a different project together, we recognized a need for anti-counterfeiting solutions as well as better marketing tools that are compliant with GDPR regulations – something that could benefit both consumers and brands. Thus, IL MIO World was born.
I think the easiest way to understand our solution is to understand the problem we want to solve. Let’s look at a few examples.
Imagine you are trying to buy a used genuine luxury bag online. Can you be 100% sure that what you are buying is an original piece? And even if it is a genuine product, can you be 100% sure that it is not a lost or stolen piece? Studies show that online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have become vulnerable incubators for fraudsters looking to harness their global reach. The top websites with counterfeit merchandise include AliExpress (18% counterfeit), Facebook (15% counterfeit), and Amazon (13% counterfeit).
Or, as a brand, imagine a customer goes to an online store and buys a genuine luxury pair of shoes for his partner. Naturally the e-commerce platform will collect his information and will never know who the true user of the product is. The information obtained is not valuable for the brand because he is the purchaser and not the user. Therefore, future communications from the brand to the purchaser will be irrelevant.
IL MIO World solves these problems and more. IL MIO World means “my world” in a mix of Italian and English. We have created a solution that protects the world of brands, and the private worlds of users and their goods. We combined NFC chips and blockchain technology to authenticate goods and store information securely. Products embedded with NFC chips will be scanned with our mobile app and the information of ownership will be registered on the blockchain.
How does it work?
Our mobile app allows users to view and claim ownership of products, view detailed information, set the status of their product (including lost or stolen) and transfer ownership to another wallet owner. And the really great part is that to access the app the user only has to share their age, location and gender – giving away no personal information!
On the back-end, brands will have a customized dashboard where they can manage anonymous users based on wallet purchases, and create personalized offers and discounts sent directly to that wallet’s device. This combination is mutually beneficial for brands and their customers and allows for more accurate, anonymous, and valuable communications.
The app gives customer
Through our mobile application, users will receive targeted notifications and offers from brands without compromising user privacy. For example, a brand sees that your virtual wallet has mostly red items. They can then create a special notification for you and send it directly to your phone. You are then more likely to click on the offer and perhaps make a purchase simply because the notification was more relevant to you. I always say:
“People don’t hate ads, they hate irrelevant ads.”
How does it work exactly? When each user registers in the system (through our app) they receive a public blockchain ID (also known as a “Wallet Address”). Each product you buy is connected to a token, which gives the product a unique code. At any given time, everyone in the system is able see that a specific Wallet number owns a specific product, but no one knows who the person behind that Wallet is. As mentioned above, in order to register in the system, users don’t need to give up any sensitive information such as name, address, Facebook account, etc. Users register with only 3 pieces of information: age, gender and city/country of residence.
Today, receiving personalized ads means losing your privacy, but with this solution, brands can communicate and interact with their customers in a very personalized way – monitoring their behavior without knowing their identity, which is an important aspect especially for luxury goods customers.
The business model aims to commercialize the service to brand manufacturers, which will be offered with an initial setup fee and a then monthly subscription fee based on the number of active users the customer has. (ie: the more active users, the lower the monthly unit fee). Subscription fees can be as low as €0.01/month/user.
Which B2B strategy are you testing?
In order to grow the business we started to build our market strategy. We first focused on the very few potential competitors and we decided to use our personal relationships in the luxury and fashion industry to get some of the big names on board. The idea was that the top players have the necessary resources, understand the value of such cutting edge technology, and want to be pioneers in their field. We started our conversation with two luxury supercar manufacturers in The Motor Valley as well as a luxury fashion brand. The value for the fashion brand was crystal clear. The supercar manufacturers also saw the potential in having more info about the second hand and third hand users of their cars, as well as how the after-sales processes. They also saw that the solution would incentivize automobile purchasers to conduct all maintenance of the car with only brand-certified dealers. Though they were all impressed, none of them wanted to be the first adopter! Because we didn’t have any other clients to be the first adopter, we changed the strategy to carry out pilots with smaller, relevant companies in different sectors (fashion, design, pharma, etc) and then go back to the “big guys” with the pilot results. We are now about to launch our first pilot with an web-based health company in Switzerland.
We are in touch with a few other companies in fashion, design, and pharma and hope to have pilots with them in the coming months. Check out our website and other media below to find out more about how we see this solution being applied across industries.